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Pediatr Radiol. 1993;23(6):421-4.

Physeal and epiphyseal extent of primary malignant bone tumors in childhood. Correlation of preoperative MRI and the pathologic examination.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Radiology, CHU Timone, Marseille, France.


Twenty-two patients with metaphyseal primary malignant bone tumors (17 osteosarcomas, 5 Ewing's tumors) occurring before closure of the growth plate were examined with plain radiographs and MRI in order to determine the physeal or epiphyseal extent of the tumor. Results were correlated with the pathologic examination. Transphyseal spread was pathologically proven in 13 cases (59%): 12 cases of osteosarcoma and 1 case of Ewing's tumor (70% and 20%, respectively). There was no significant relation between epiphyseal invasion, age of patient, length of tumor or, in the cases of osteosarcoma, response to chemotherapy. Plain radiographs showed epiphyseal involvement in 4 cases and there were 10 false negatives. MRI revealed epiphyseal involvement in all cases; there were no false positives or false negatives. T1-weighted images in coronal or sagittal planes appeared to be sufficient. These findings are very useful in planning surgical limb salvage procedures and stress the ineffectiveness of the "barrier effect" of the growth plate against tumor spread.

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